Decades of Science

Cold fusion. New force. The future and past of science as I know it.

Belief

Who are we? The lucky ones endeavouring towards a final human understanding of the universe, or the ones myopic enough to conceive ourselves from the real cosmic elegance, that is to be discovered amid the rubble of our contemporary conceit and perpetual fallibility?

We’ve got to work on, not concerning ourselves about that too much. Schisms exist, branching events occur, roads get divided. Nonetheless, whatever way our traveller would choose, usually (s)he has to walk on, into more places waiting afar, to walk through more crossroads.

To me, the question of where we are versus where we think we are was a rather common example used to demonstrate how science difficultly grows, and that the ultimate sceptical thinking has its limitations in time. – Think about the collective confidence that people had 300 years ago and how limited their knowledge seem today.

We both have limited time here, so I want to recount briefly a story that started mere decades ago.

In our elegant system of nuclear chemistry and so on, helium and nuclear energy can not emancipate in a reaction involving palladium and heavy water.

Or can they?

First proposed in 1989, this experiment that yields He in room temperature stirred waves of debates in the field of science and the broader public. People from around globe engaged in the verification of the results soon after its initial publication. Luckily for me, I heard the story from someone who participated in such follow-up experiments and stood out to falsify the initial cold fusion claim,

“In 100 years… we can either be viewed as ones who protected science or ones who dared hinder new discoveries and Nobels.”

It was a mutual turbulence in emotion and motivations. From the similar standpoint of logics that lecture had passed onto us, the cold fusion theory does not seem sufficiently reliable. Calorimetry apparatus is not capable of such level of accuracy, and the team was suspected to selectively report data in favour of a positive result. Did we propose all these arguments largely to oppose them? What was the purpose? Was that decades of science bad?

Wanting to know something is itself contradictory sometimes. Science is human.

However, a similar wave of reason is up and rising, right now, around us. Recent physics experiments and literature point towards a new particle that is slightly heavier than an electron, and associated with it could be one more form of fundamental force that physics never glimpsed before.

Quoting Feng from UC Irvine, the original author:

“…because the new particle is so light, there are many experimental groups working in small labs around the world that can follow up the initial claims, now that they know where to look.”

They know where to look. Indeed, seeing new theories being proposed and labs and scientists worldwide verifying them soon after, is always a cheerful part of being alive in this era to me. What will this work reveal?

Limerence

As a gradual learner whose ambitions still grow, I sometimes find the limitations of humanity pertinently depressing. For example, the experimental study of quantum systems is really (mostly) studying how they interact with our apparatuses (and us); and why wouldn’t high degree differential equations be the instinct way in which a human brain considers the world?

I couldn’t help imagining that unimaginable world. It seems too logical to be true. I shall just keep my limerence. And work on what’s close to me instead. I hope the best would happen, even though I don’t know what that is.

“O’ brave new world!”

And yet again, I failed to mention (integrate) my friend Carl into my writing. I have missed out on so much of my thoughts that I feel more discouraged.

Here’s some words from Carl, whom I usually quote in my diaries,

“We will have changed…
“What new wonders undreamt of in our time will we have wrought in another generation and another?
“How far will our nomadic species have wandered by the end of the next century and the next millennium?”

Do I have to believe? Is there a way to know?

I will try to remain calm and prudent, in the decades of science to come in my life.


Written in one hour, after a week of procrastination induced by failing homoeostasis.

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